Sunday, August 23, 2015

Day 10: Sunday

What to do on a Sunday? Restaurants are open and trains are running, but pretty much everything else is closed (no markets and most shops are closed). So, another lazy morning.

We thought we'd try to go to MountMitte today, a crazy ropes course activity center. But we need food first, so we walked around the corner to a burrito place Chris had seen on one of his morning runs. It was wonderful! Especially since we thought we'd be without Mexican food for months. Yum! However, while we were eating, one of the workers hurried to bring out the outdoor awning. Why? Because it was raining! It's hard to imagine, but we are disappointed because we are no longer interested in taking our chances at MountMitte (they don't run in more than a sprinkle) and we don't know what the weather will do. I say, "It's hard to imagine", because I know back home in Oregon, there are so many fires and they are in desperate need of rain. Oh, if I could send it your way!

Side note: We didn't notice the rain, at first, because we were eating inside. Why eat inside on another beautiful day? Because of those pesky bees that are everywhere. Ugh. So inside, where it's too warm, is where we eat. A bee still found its way into our dining area, but one is a lot less than TONS.

After lunch, Venice asked if she could lead us back home. Yes! Oh, but... sidetrack! We see a church that we think is the one we hear every day (sometimes the bells go for 15 minutes or longer at a time, at odd times, like 9:20am). They are far enough away that they are "in the distance" and so beautiful. I'm thinking if we were closer, I might be annoyed by the clanging. But being as far as we are, it's just beautiful to hear.

So, we walk over. I think, another day we'll go inside (it's 2 Eruos to enter), but for today, just looking on the outside. There are no descriptions in English, so we'll have to ask a co-worker or go online to investigate what this church represents (why there is a fee to enter and see) and if it's still active as a church.

Chris is reminded of a park he saw when ran this morning, so we walked towards that park. Turns out, it has a water feature, a rose garden, a small café, and a huge park area with structures to climb, slides, skate park, and even a mini-trampoline!

Side note: The dogs here are so well behaved. Both our friends who lived here for 6 months told us this as well as our friend, Yasmin (a German), told us this. But to experience it in person is amazing. I'd say 95% of the dogs I've seen here, in Berlin, are NOT on leashes. They just trot by the side of their owners and go about their day. I think I have only seen one owner speak firmly to their dog, most are also just going about their day with the dog by their sides. We see dogs at the feet of restaurant patrons, just lying there, looking around, hanging out peacefully. Perhaps, at the park, the dog will bound into a grassy area, but then they look up and rejoin their owner. We did have one who came sniffing around us (but only as close as, maybe, 4 feet) and then left to find their owner. Again, no yelling, "come here", the dog just did it.

A small dog, I realise, but it was the only one
available at the time for me to photograph.
There are big-obedient dogs here too!
I can't tell you how nice it is to not hear dogs barking, have dogs jumping at you, or approaching you making you wary of them, or putting you on edge because you don't know if it's a "nice" dog or not. I must investigate (but I know I won't) to find out if it's law or culture, or a combination of both... but it sure seems like if you acquire a dog, here, you MUST complete some sort of obedience school. The dogs are just so docile and sweet. Both owners and dogs are very calm in nature.

We headed home, and this time, Venice did lead us there. Yay, Venice! Good job! I'm glad that when Chris goes back to work, someone else will help guide me through the city ;)

It was late afternoon, when we decided to try to head to Mauerpark, where they have a flea market every Sunday. There is also a man who brings his karaoke machine with speakers every Sunday. He runs a fun karaoke (with grand applause and raucous booing, so we hear). But, the hours of the activities end at 5pm, which is what time it is about now. We decide to walk there anyway, as it's one more place to see that's close to us, and we can see things along the way. We hold a small hope that, since it's turned out to be a nice day (guess we could have gone to MountMitte, after all), maybe a few things will still be there when we get there (it's a 20 minute walk).

Guess what? On the way, we found another park! Surprise! It's amazing how many wonderful parks we find within just walking distance of our home. This might be the 5th or 6th one. And they are all different. It's wonderful. So, we of course, stop a while to let the kids run around free (we are getting a lot of exercise in the form of walking, but it's not the same as free-play).

Side note: Have I talked about ping-pong? It's EVERYWHERE! Every single open space and/or park seems to have several concrete ping-pong tables. I'm guessing you bring your own paddles and balls? So, it's now on our list to buy some paddles and balls so we can play ping-pong the next time we head out to a park. I'm not sure why, but it must be some sort of favourite pastime or easy to maintain activity?

Oderberger Straße
We walk on Oderberger Straße, a colourful street with lots of restaurants. I think out loud, that this is a great place to start eating at one end and make your way to the other end. I think there are at least 10 good looking restaurants in just a 2 block section. At least. And, one of them is Mexican! Yay, more choices, makes us very happy.

All of a sudden, the crowds thicken and traffic is noisier. We look up and have made it to Mauerpark. You can see 100s of tents for the flea market and hear music from more than one source. People are milling about drinking beers (open containers is ok here). We enter the park and decide to follow the path that will take us to a slightly higher ground where we can see over the park and follow part of The Wall that is still there. This part of the walls is graffitied in its entirety and we could see at least 10 artists currently spray painting their art. I'm assuming, every Sunday, new artists are out there again?

We hear a cheer of a large crowd and wander over to see what the hubbub was about. We found the karaoke man! I love it when you stumble across something like this, that you want to see, think you won't because you're too late, and then there you are! Perfect. We watched several people take their turn at singing. The man who runs the show, is an expat from England, I think. We knew this (he's in our tour book), but it was still a surprise that the runs the show in English. So, lucky for us, we understood everything going on, all his jokes, and all his interviews of those choosing to sing for the large crowd (I thought a group standing around would be the crowd, but no, it's a large amphitheatre solidly filled with watchers drinking beer).
All songs were sung in English (while we were there), except this one! 99 Luftbaoons (from the 80s)! No need to worry about looking like a tourist here, everyone had their phone out taking photos and videos, so I was in good company. 

Photo on side of building (left). Graffitied Wall (right).
On the way home, I made the realisation that the German word "mauer" means "wall". Aha! We had learned "wall" in our studies, but it was "wand", which is part of a structure. Mauer is a stand alone wall. This makes many signs and names I've been seeing make more sense. Side note: As we walk around our neighbourhood, you do see lots of plaques and photos explaining the history of the Berlin Wall. Just on our way home tonight, we see a printing on the side of the building (on our street Schwedter) of a flooding of people going through The Wall as it came down in 1989. The history is here, everywhere.

Tonight's view from our back (left)
and front (right) windows.
And as I finish this post, I hear the ringing church bells through our open windows.

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